When Russia invaded Ukraine, I had promised to play football to friends

Yároslav and Oléna

Yároslav informed his friends on February 23, 2022, that he would play football with them the following day at school.

It never took place.

The 12-year-old Ukrainian's easy plan turned into an impossibility in a matter of hours.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine over night, Yároslav is unsure of the next time he will be able to kick a ball with his friends.

His school friends are dispersed all over the world, and he and his mother, Oléna Blotova, are sharing a room in a hotel in Scotland.

They have spent the last eight months living in the hotel.

Dad Oleksii and Oléna's parents are still living at home in northeastern Ukraine's Kharkiv.

Oléna explained to BBC Scotland that everything changed suddenly.

Oléna and Yároslav
Oléna and Yároslav have lived in a city hotel for the past eight months.

Nobody anticipated having to get up one morning, pack their belongings into a small backpack, and flee, she said.

The distance between Kharkiv and the Russian border is 36 km (22 mi). On February 24, 2022, at 5:00 a.m., the full invasion took place, and we had to flee to avoid the war.

"We attempted to settle in various regions of Ukraine, but it was difficult and there are currently no safe places there — there are no schools, there are electricity issues, and we were afraid of the winter.

"I took my child and crossed the border because we were afraid for the future and for our children. ".

Almost 23,500 Ukrainians are currently living this tale after migrating to Scotland through the Scottish government's super sponsor program.

Some were housed in hotels, others in cruise ships, and still others were hosted by host families.

Oléna thinks the thousands of Ukrainian mothers who fled their country in search of safety are a different kind of soldier, fighting to keep their children safe while the war rages on at home.

She claimed that because she had spent her entire life in Ukraine, making the choice had been nearly impossible. "I had a lot of plans for our future lives, including my husband, a family, a job, a house, and a dog.

"We were responsible adults with clear plans for the future and how to bring up our child in Ukraine.

"All future plans and aspirations were destroyed by war. For any Ukrainian family, it wasn't simple when we had to flee. ".

Oléna Bólotova
Though they now live day-to-day, Oleksii, Oléna, and Yároslav had plans for the future as a family.

The life of those left behind is challenging.

People try to adapt to their new reality, Oléna said. living in bomb shelters and making an effort to carry on as normally as possible. attending work.

"Ukraine is fighting and giving birth to new children, proving that the country is still alive. Teachers are working to deliver online instruction wherever it is needed, even in areas without electricity.

My husband is unable to join us because he is in Ukraine. We have been separated for the first time in our nearly 18 years of marriage.

Men are attempting to adapt to life without wives and kids. ".

In addition to playing football, Yároslav enjoys his time at school in Glasgow. Despite the strong accents of his friends, his English is getting better.

He claimed that thinking back was painful.

"I recall telling my friends on February 23, 2022, that we would play football tomorrow and attend school.

And on February 24 at 5:00 a.m., I woke up without having any thoughts of school in my head. ".

Oléna and Yároslav

He claimed that initially, communication was challenging.

They resided in homeless shelters without internet. However, by the time I call or text them, they are secure.

"At this time, my friends are spread out across the globe. I'm surprised by where some of them are located—some in Poland, some in nations like Indonesia. Some people remain in the extremely dangerous area of Kharkiv. ".

Every day he talks to his father. Every day, Oléna tries to contact her parents, but she worries about them.

Her greatest wish is to learn that the war is over from the news. However, they would prefer more long-term lodging for the time being. Although Olena is happy to feel safe, she wishes she could prepare her son's meals, do their own laundry, and have their own space.

Oléna, a Ukrainian academic and university lecturer, has started working as an administrator at a city university.

"I'm glad I can contribute something here and pay taxes here. I truly feel like I belong to the Glasgow community, she continued.

The mother and son pledge to be brave in the interim, using a word Oléna noted was frequently used to describe Ukrainians.

Not just for the front-line combatants, she continued, "but for every Ukrainian mother who takes her kids and searches the globe for a safe place to raise them.".

"Teachers and doctors who stay in Ukraine and assist people are brave. For all Ukrainians, this is brave.

"Ukraine lives inside of us constantly. For the rest of our lives, we will always be Ukrainians.

. "

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